KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tim Anderson was the spark plug. Luis Robert was the big engine that could.
Anderson had his second consecutive big game in a row. He reached base in his first four plate appearances and had two hits, two walks, two RBI and two stolen bases. Robert, after striking out three times the night before and in his first at-bat, had two RBI singles, was hit by a pitch and gave the Sox a two-run lead with a 415-foot two-run homer in the eighth inning in a 7-4 victory Thursday against the Royals.
Robert, who finished with four RBI, knocked in Anderson after Anderson walked against Royals starter Carlos Hernandez and stole two bases.
“Yeah, just really trying to beat you at all angles,” Anderson said. “Being able to play both sides of the ball and giving us a chance to win and giving others a chance to get RBIs.
“I was just being myself. Playing my game. And having fun while I was doing it.”
The Sox took three of the five games in the series and got back to .500. They came back from a 4-1 deficit, smelling victory only after Robert finally created some space against the Royals (14-23) by connecting against Dylan Coleman for his team-high sixth home run. Robert also took over the team lead in RBI with 17.
“I was just trying to not strike out,” Robert said through translator Billy Russo. “Last night was a difficult game for my offense. He made a mistake and I took advantage of it.’’
Third baseman Emmanuel Rivera’s stab of Anderson’s liner in the eighth prevented Anderson from reaching base a fifth time in five plate appearances. Anderson has 10 multihit games in his last 18.
“He’s very special,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He’s as special as our fans think he is. The more people around the country that know it, the better.”
Velasquez goes 5, pen does rest
Right-hander Vince Velasquez allowed four runs in five innings, two on a homer by Hunter Dozier in the first after Bobby Witt Jr. beat out an overturned double play.
“After giving up that two-run home run, it seemed like everything kind of cleaned up, in a sense,” Velasquez said. “I made a couple of mistakes in a couple of counts that I should have been better at. Overall, you can’t give up in this game.”
Bennett Sousa, Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman and closer Liam Hendriks each pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Hendriks recorded his 12th save but not before the Royals brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth on singles by Kyle Isbel and Nicky Lopez.
Dallas Keuchel, who opens a three-game series Friday in New York, is 4-4 with a 2.06 ERA over 10 career starts against the Yankees.
With Michael Kopech’s status questionable as he awaits the birth of his child, Johnny Cueto will start Saturday where Kopech was pegged. Kopech is tentatively slated for Sunday, with Dylan Cease probably available if needed instead.
Yoan Moncada experienced some leg soreness as he rounded first base following a single that preceded Robert’s homer, but is OK, La Russa said.